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Thread: Started building my mini-trees

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    I've made all my mini trees out of pressure treated deck boards. I rip pieces to about 1/2" x 1" (leave the thickness alone) and drill holes to fasten them together with wire ties. What I really like about it is the ability to staple the light strings to the tree, which is much cheaper than using zip ties. I've also made a few wrapped in shrink wrap which adds a little more "glow" and allows me to use fewer lights. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm all about spending as little $$$ as possible. I just made 4 new ones that only cost me $2.00 each which was the cost of 400 lights per tree. I've yet to trip a GFI...knock on wood.
    Where was I when all this took place?

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    made a few wrapped in shrink wrap
    I've heard of people doing this using just kitchen cellophane (saran-wrap). I'm not sure if I understand the process. Are the frames wrapped with wrap then the lights on over? Or are the frames/lights wrapped after?
    lightsofnazareth.com

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    I just coated the bottom 2" with liquid electrical tape. Only tripped the breaker once when they were sitting in about 6" of water.
    Chris
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  4. #14
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    If you plan to have multiple colors on your mini trees you may want to do what I did. I ziptied the strings together and then wrapped the "mega" string around the tree. It made wrapping much easier and more evenly distributed. Of course if a string goes bad, I'm in a world of hurt. :oops:

    I'm considering strapping/zip-tying my mini trees to large steeping stones or blocks. This will give them off the ground and may deter people from walking off with them.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    Quote Originally Posted by txag2008 View Post
    I've heard of people doing this using just kitchen cellophane (saran-wrap). I'm not sure if I understand the process. Are the frames wrapped with wrap then the lights on over? Or are the frames/lights wrapped after?
    I use stretch packaging wrap (for illustrative purposes, not a recommendation: http://www.officedepot.com/a/product...h-Wrap-Film-5/) which is far cheaper than food-grade wrap.

    I first build my tomato-cage mini-trees per the instructions found here and elsewhere. Then I wrap the tree in packaging wrap to two or three thicknesses. Finally, I string the lights around, using zip ties to hold them to the wire of the tomato cages; the wire of the light string never touches the bare metal of the tomato cage.

    As an added benefit, the light refracts and reflects and instead of 200 or 300 individual lamps, the entire tree glows.

    HTH.

    \dmc
    ________________________
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  6. #16
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    So to use the zip-ties you have to poke holes in the wrap wherever you want to secure the lights? Is that correct?
    lightsofnazareth.com

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    Quote Originally Posted by txag2008 View Post
    So to use the zip-ties you have to poke holes in the wrap wherever you want to secure the lights? Is that correct?
    Yes. I variously use a pocket knife or a sharp small screwdriver blade.

    HTH.

    \dmc
    ________________________
    The only thing more dangerous than a software engineer with a soldering iron
    or a hardware engineer with a compiler is a liberal-arts major with either.
    [b]Christmas lights:[/b] [url]http://www.PacificaLights.info/[/url]
    [b]uC/LED hacking:[/b] [url]http://www.dmcole.net/[/url]

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    Why do the GFCI's trip? Are the mini lights always leaking voltage through the insulation? Or does the rain occasionally cause a short between the contacts in a light base and the mini tree?
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  9. #19
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    Quote Originally Posted by Jrd View Post
    Why do the GFCI's trip? Are the mini lights always leaking voltage through the insulation? Or does the rain occasionally cause a short between the contacts in a light base and the mini tree?
    I'm not an electrician or electrical engineer, but my understanding is that rain combined with the metal frame causes the voltage to leak to ground just enough to have less electricity return on the neutral than leaves on the hot, which in turn causes the GFCI to trip. I believe we're talking milliamps here.

    In my case, using the packaging shrink wrap to insulate the metal frame is enough to keep that leak from happening. Those who use non-metal frames get the same benefit.

    YMMV.

    \dmc
    ________________________
    The only thing more dangerous than a software engineer with a soldering iron
    or a hardware engineer with a compiler is a liberal-arts major with either.
    [b]Christmas lights:[/b] [url]http://www.PacificaLights.info/[/url]
    [b]uC/LED hacking:[/b] [url]http://www.dmcole.net/[/url]

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Started building my mini-trees

    Every year this becomes a topic of discussion. dmcole is correct in his analysis. Rain is the enemy, once it snows and stays cold, the issue seems to go away. I use tomato cages covered by chicken wire. I like the way they keep their shape and they are very durable during set up and storage. To minimize (almost elimiate) the GFI issue, I have lined bottom of the cages with pipe insulation. The trees are achored to the ground with plastic zip ties that have screw mounts. The stake is metal, but the zip tie and insulation seems to stop the GFI issues.

    I took the idea from WWWNF911. He describes the method at http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...ni+tree&page=6 post number 51.
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